Owner of Van de Wetering greenhouses dies at 82

Peter Van de Wetering in an undated photo. (Credit: Van de Wetering family)
Peter Van de Wetering in an undated photo. (Credit: Van de Wetering family)

Longtime Riverhead resident and owner of Van de Wetering greenhouses Peter Van de Wetering died May 28 at his home.

He was 82.

Mr. Van de Wetering, the  oldest of eight children, was born July 6, 1931, in Naaldwijk, Netherlands, to Catherine (Van Went) and Anton Van de Wetering.

He married Joyce (née Van Steckelenburg) Jan. 2, 1965, in Kwintsheul, Netherlands, and the couple would have been married 50 years in January 2015.

Mr. Van de Wetering started Van de Wetering greenhouses with his wife, Joyce; his daughter Marion; his son, Anton; and his daughter Karin in 1989. Prior to running his own business, he was a partner with his brother Jack at Ivy Acres wholesale greenhouse in Calverton.

His passion for growing extended beyond the North Fork, as he grew tulips and begonias that lined Park Avenue in New York City.

According to a New York Times article published in April 2013, Mr. Van de Wetering also won a commission in 1958 to plant 10,000 daffodils at United Nations Plaza.

“My dad’s greatest passion was his business and flowers,” said Mr. Van de Wetering’s daughter Karin Gravagna. “He lived and breathed his business and was giving me instructions up until his last day.” 

From 1951 to 1953, Mr. Van de Wetering served in the U.S. Army, after being pardoned by the Queen of Holland from serving in the Netherlands.

Ms. Gravagna remarked how he was “a man of dignity and proud of his service to his country.”

According to Ms. Gravagna, when his wife moved from Holland to the United States in the 1960s, he promised her that someday when he had money, he would buy her a house in Holland. They were able to purchase a home there a few years later and Ms. Gravagna remembered taking trips to Holland as a child. “My dad traveled all over Europe, but he always loved returning to the U.S. and the Netherlands.”

Locally, Mr. Van de Wetering was involved with St. John the Evangelist R.C. Church.

“He was a faithful man and donated to the church,” Ms. Gravagna said.

He also served on the board of directors for Suffolk County National Bank for 18 years.

In addition to his wife, his son, his daughters and brothers Jack and Joseph of Calverton, Mr. Van de Wetering is survived by  his sisters Getrude Caroll of California and Catherine Allen of Calverton and six grandchildren. He was predeceased by his sisters Martha and Elly and his brother Ted.

The family will receive visitors Tuesday, June 3, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Reginald H. Tuthill Funeral Home in Riverhead. A funeral service will take place at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 4, at St. John the Evangelist Church in Riverhead, officiated by Father Larry Duncklee. Burial will take place at Wading River Cemetery.

“He loved his business, his family and his flowers,” Ms. Gravagna said.